Good news for anyone who wants a big, silly, fun action movie for their weekend viewing – Meg 2: The Trench arrives on Max on September 29. And despite some, shall we say, mixed reviews from its run in theaters, I think it's a perfectly enjoyable movie that knows exactly what level it's aimed at – and that level is "shoving a pizza slice in your mouth while people from an evil corporation get their comeuppance in the stomach of a giant shark".
Meg 2 is a direct sequel to The Meg, but it doesn't really matter if you haven't seen the first film. The status quo following the events of the first movie is essentially summed up in some exposition about how, as we all know, there's a layer of cold water (or something) at the bottom of the Mariana trench, and when you go below that, it's full of giant prehistoric beasties, including megalodons.
Meg 2 is about how evil companies screw up the environment and unleash ecological horrors on innocent people as a result. Sort of. I mean, that's definitely the theme behind the plot, though it's less woven in as an allegory, and more just literally what happens. On a scientific trip to the layer below the trench, Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) and his crew discover there's a base already down there, and they'll have to investigate. The movie basically treats the bottom of the ocean like an alien planet, and there are big The Expanse and Armageddon vibes at various sections of this part of the movie.
Some people found this bit too slow, but I loved the look and the mystery element of it, where you don't know what they'll find inside the facility, or whether (and how) they'll be able to get back to the surface. And then the movie helpfully has Statham do something impossible and ridiculous to indicate to you that, as we transition out of this section of the movie, the captain has activated the "please turn your brain off" sign, because after that we're in the half of the movie where gigantic sharks (and other creatures!) rise from the depths to attack a tourist resort.
The movie isn't exactly full of iconic action scenes (though the awesome shot from inside a meg's mouth while it's munching on people, and the shot of Statham driving his jetski off a cresting wave in order to spear a shark, both wrote themselves into my mind pretty indelibly), but it's got charismatic actors playing characters who all behave competently and sensibly in the face of danger, which is not something every action movie can say, much to my annoyance.
At times, the movie is playing smartly with character tropes too. Chinese superstar Jing Wu plays the good-guy patsy of the evil corporation, and from the early sections of the movie is set up as the guy who's pretty clearly going to have to sacrifice himself for the sins of his partners. But that doesn't happen when you expect it, and after that, the film basically flashes a big neon sign saying "uh oh, he's definitely gonna get it now!" and winks at you every time he gets into peril again (which is often).
Which kind of defines the movie for me – it's having fun with itself, and it knows you can have some fun with it too. Take the (solid) action scenes serious, or don't. I had a blast.
You might also like
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.